"Taming" rocks and changing landscapes: A new Interpretation of neolithic cupmarks

Leore Grosman*, Naama Goren-Inbar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Cupmarks-artificial hemispherical depressions, often appearing in groups on bedrock surfaces-are found worldwide, often near Paleolithic sites and Holocene settlements. The term "bedrock mortars" expresses the interpretation that they were used for pounding/grinding collected plant foods. A reexamination of the cupmarks near the site of Hatula, on the margin of the Judean Shephelah west of Jerusalem, rules out the traditional functional interpretation in this instance. Instead, the evidence suggests that these cupmarks are remnants of intensive quarrying aimed at extracting flint nodules from the conglomerate beneath the surface and that the quarry was exploited not only for nodules but for limestone slabs. The cupmarks were drilled during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A occupation of the site (ca. 9600-8000 Cal BC) and constitute a component of the Neolithic techno-cultural tradition. Future research should enlarge the data set of cupmarks and furnish a better understanding of their role in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic and beyond.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)732-740
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Anthropology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2007


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